Google’s Core Web Vitals Update
How users interact with the website was already a part of Google’s search ranking algorithm.
If a web page is providing a bad experience to the user then it makes sense to not give a ranking boost to the web page. This is because ultimately, Google wants users to have the best possible experience on its search.
Before 2020, Google was already using some metrics or signals to evaluate this ‘page experience’ of a web page for the user. Some of the signals were page speed and mobile friendliness.
In May 2020, the Chrome team announced another set of metrics that could help evaluate a web page’s interactivity, stability and overall user experience. These sets of metrics were called Core Web Vitals.
In May 2020, Google announced that it will combine these Core Web Vitals with its existing set of signals for measuring page experience and will be a part of Google’s search ranking algorithm.
They called this Page Experience Update. So, Page Experience includes Core Web Vitals, Mobile Friendliness, Security (HTTPS), and No Intrusive Interstitials and all these will be used to evaluate web page’s search visibility.
We have already talked about HTTPS and Mobile Friendliness. Here we will talk about Core Web Vitals only.
In May 2021, Google officially started to roll out Page Experience Update and now it is actively being optimised by site owners in order to perform well on search. However, you need to note that a good page experience does not override quality and relevant content.
Quality and relevant content have still higher weight than page experience when it comes to determining the search rankings, but as per Google, in cases where there are multiple pages with similar content, page experience becomes a differentiating factor.
What Are The Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals address the three aspects of user experience on a web page; loading, interactivity, and stability. The three Core Web Vitals are
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) for measuring loading,
- First Input Delay (FID) for measuring interactivity, and
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) for measuring stability.
Let’s talk about each one briefly.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is a metric that reports the loading time of the largest element on the web page within the viewport relative to when the page first starts loading. The largest element on the web page is usually an image, video or text block.
Suppose you enter the URL of some website into your browser, the website starts loading. You would measure the time until the largest element (say an image) shows up to you on screen. That’s your LCP. It is recommended to aim for LCP below 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID)
As already said, FID measures the interactivity of a web page. FID is the time when you interact with the page (like clicking on the link, buttons etc) to the time when the browser is able to respond to your actions.
Sometimes what happens is that after the website is loaded, you still need to wait for it to respond to your actions or it takes a long amount of time to give a response. That’s a bad user experience.
It is recommended to have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is used to measure a web page’s stability. CLS is a measure of the largest burst of layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift.
When some element of the web page changes its position unexpectedly, we say a layout shift has happened. Random layout shifts are bad for the user’s experience.
Imagine you were comfortable reading an article until some ad popped up and your article was shifted down. That’s bad right? Your CLS score should be less than 0.1
Alright, now that you know what Core Web Vitals are and how many recommended values are for each one. You need to be able to measure these metrics.
Fortunately, there are various online official Google Tools that help you do that. Let’s learn how we can measure Core Web Vitals using each one of them. Though there are many tools, we will discuss only the important and useful ones.
How To Measure Core Web Vitals
PageSpeed is Google’s online measurement tool. Run PageSpeed Insights on your website and you will get a report which will look something like below
As you can see in the report, it measures Core Web Vitals for you indicating LCP and CLS.
Search Console Report
By now, you must already be acquainted with the Search Console. Search Console provides you with a Core Web Vitals report where you can check your website’s performance on these metrics.
It will flag any low performance on Core Web Vitals metrics.
Page Experience is Google’s ongoing effort to make the web a better place for users. The main aim of Core Web Vitals is to help site owners measure and improve upon the user experience of their websites. To reinforce what we already said, Page Experience does not override quality and relevant content. If your website does not provide valuable and relevant information to the users and improving upon Core Web Vitals won’t make any difference.
After the measurement of the metrics, the next question is how to actually go about improving these metrics and what methods and techniques are available. So, next, we will discuss how we can improve these Core Web Vitals.
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